I’ve had a blog bumming around for some time. Each time I think I’m ready to post the darn thing, I change my mind about posting and write something else. I think part of the reason is this blog is supposed to be light-hearted and full of fluff. But the subject matter at hand is none of those things.
The boy came home from youth group Thursday, clearly upset. He is currently suffering from pollen induced allergies, which are making his eyes very itchy. unfortunately, no matter how many times we tell him “Keep your fingers out of your eyes”, the temptation to itch has been too great. As a result, his eyes eventually begin to swell and hurt. While at youth group, he began exhibiting odd behavior as a result of that itching–he moaned about how bad his eyes hurt. Couple with the fact his voice is still changing and I’m sure the sound he released was quite unusual. The other kids thought this was funny and began to mimic him, to the point that he felt bullied.
Was he bullied or is he is own worst enemy? I really don’t believe the other students’ intention was to make him feel bad about his situation. Lord knows, those itchy eyes were already doing the trick. But Youth Group is supposed to be a safe environment for him. Unfortunately, that has not been the case for some time. “Mom basically I go for the free pizza” he told me at the start of the school year. Yes the draw of pizza I’m sure was great at the time, but we were hoping for a bit more…
Last summer the boy was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a developmental disorder which is characterized by socially and emotionally inappropriate behavior and the inability to interact successfully with peers. For the last year he’s attended skill sessions in an attempt to learn how to read social cues and control his temper when others do not understand his intentions. His improvements have been tremendous, but this is an ongoing process; one he will have to work on continuously for the rest of his life.
“Why go to youth group if they continue to make you feel bad?” His father asked him. “Honey, he needs to learn how to handle his peers in a safe place” I replied. “Doesn’t seem that safe to me” his father shot back. “It’s okay dad, I’ll probably go back again. I need to learn how to deal with them (other kids).” the boy replied. Yet each time he has gone back, he’s come home early;disappointed by the other kids actions toward him.
Over the last four years, I’ve gone out to dinner once, maybe twice a year; with people I attended grade school with. We usually reminisce “What ever happened to so and so”; often times we’ll talk about our lives, how our children are doing, etc. I remember, a few years back, running into an old classmate and inviting her to attend one of our gatherings. Her response was sad. “Will any of the “popular” girls be there?” Interesting; how we keep our old labels, as I knew exactly whom she referred to. When I replied “perhaps” she declined. “I had enough of those jerks in grade school, no thank you.”
These next five years are so very critical to the boy’s development. What he experiences now will shape who he’ll become in the future. I don’t want him looking back thirty years from now with resentment toward anyone. I certainly don’t want his memories tainted with feelings of inadequacies and unhappiness. Life is way too short.
To the boy’s credit, he walked away from youth group last night and came home. Last year he would have engaged in a physical altercation–though I wouldn’t be surprised if he uttered some curse laden parting shots at them. I can see the progress he’s made…I wish other kids could see and understand too.
For more information about Aspberger’s please check out this site, among many others…